The intent of this document is to describe Web Hosting services provided by the Office of
Information Technology (OIT), define boundaries of such services, and identify levels of services all
users should expect.
OIT provides common good Web Hosting to University units. This hosting is done on Unix systems
and does not include database back ends. Web content is maintained by staff in local units.
Definition of Services Provided
OIT provides a comprehensive, common good Web Hosting service for University of Minnesota
units enabling them to post their own content online. Content is securely managed via separate
servers by web developers from each local unit. Performance and web traffic is monitored carefully
and continually by OIT staff to maintain high levels of quality and performance.
Features of Central Web Hosting:
A pool of web servers is available to host web content. Multiple web servers, in several locations
around campus, support Web Hosting. An outage at one location or on one server is highly unlikely
to result in a system-wide outage.
UNIX shell host access permits interactive editing of content. Access to the shell servers is protected
by UNIX permissions, and controlled by the local unit’s web developers. Only developers that are
part of a unit’s website group are able to write to website directory space or other files.
Custom Virtual Hosts (VHOSTs) will be defined so the web servers will answer traffic for the
website name selected by the local unit.
Server Side Includes (SSI) are supported on central web servers. SSI provides another method of
Server Side Includes
producing dynamic web content. SSI commands are put into an HTML comment, which is
interpreted by the web server, resulting in dynamically-generated HTML.
CGI is one method for executing binaries or interpreted scripts that generate web pages, which
CGI (Perl, sh, etc.)
allows units to create dynamic websites. CGI scripts may be written in a variety of programming
Office of Information Technology – University of Minnesota 1
Please note that OIT offers a fee-based Premium Web Hosting option that is monitored more closely
and has the option for SSL support.
It is OIT’s goal to provide Web Hosting services 24x7x52, except for during scheduled maintenance
Hours of Operation
periods. Support for Web Hosting is available between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday,
with on-call staffing for after-hours emergencies.
The operational status of Web Hosting services is available at: http://systemstatus.umn.edu.
Change Management is the structured approach OIT uses to manage changes to the University of
Minnesota IT environment via formal request and approval mechanisms. By employing a
consistent, structured approach to change management, we are able to ensure that all changes are
efficiently and promptly handled, thereby minimizing the impact of change-related incidents on
service delivery. The Change Approval Board (CAB) oversees and approves OIT changes to service.
There are four change categories: Standard, Normal, Urgent, and Emergency. For more information,
visit the Change Management website.
Web Hosting has time reserved for scheduled maintenance between the hours of 6 a.m. and noon
on the third Sunday of each month. Every effort will be made to use this time window to perform
maintenance activities. If the maintenance window extends beyond the anticipated end time, the
System Status page will be updated accordingly. The schedule of maintenance windows for OIT
applications and services is published on the System Status page.
Should maintenance be required outside of the scheduled maintenance window, an announcement
will be posted to the System Status page.
If a scheduled maintenance activity is expected to impact service, OIT intends that information
regarding that maintenance activity will be communicated via the System Status page, the OIT
change control calendar, and other appropriate venues no fewer than 10 business days in advance
of the maintenance activity.
Communications about maintenance will include the start time, anticipated end time, and a
description of the maintenance to be performed (upgrades, patches, etc.).
Central Web Hosting is dependent upon the University data center power, network, and related
systems. The availability of those systems will have a direct impact on the availability of this
Office of Information Technology – University of Minnesota 2
Service Dependency on Service Service
Power There must be power to web and authentication servers. OIT
Network There must be network access to web and authentication OIT
Environment There must be chilled air to the web and authentication servers. OIT
Storage There must be connectivity to the Network Attached Storage OIT
Vendor Vendor support may be required for resolving complex Vendor
problems. Support timetables from vendors are highly variable
and will extend time needed to resolve problems.
Service Provider and Customer Responsibilities
OIT is responsible for the implementation of the product, updates/upgrades, management of the
central service, and providing best practice recommendations about service administration for
local units. Contact Web Hosting services via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
OIT Duties and Responsibilities
• Set up, configure, maintain, and upgrade server hardware and peripherals, including server
CPUs, adapter cards, memory, hard disk arrays, tape backup units, and removable storage
• Install, configure, maintain, and upgrade operating system software on servers.
• Install and maintain operating system vendor supplied versions of Web Hosting software
including, but not limited to, Apache, PHP and Perl.
• Manage and maintain SSL certificates.
Web log analysis can help provide a better picture for how users access and use a website. This can
provide valuable information such as hits, page views, page errors, broken links, and number of
visitors to units and web masters. Log statistics analysis is available from OIT using software named
UM Web Stats (http://www.oit.umn.edu/web-stats/).
The common good Web Hosting service is monitored 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Problems discovered during this time are responded to immediately. Outside these times, problems
are responded to on a "best effort" basis. OIT will actively scan and monitor all servers to ensure
systems are secure. OIT will review and remediate any outstanding issues resulting from security
OIT unit will be expected to:
• Communicate and coordinate with IT staff in local units to minimize disruption to end users.
• Notify customers about scheduled maintenance via the System Status web page.
• Meet response and resolution times associated with service-related incidents.
Office of Information Technology – University of Minnesota 3
OIT requires at least one primary contact for every website. Required contact information includes:
Customer Duties and Responsibilities:
name, email address, phone number, and an EFS chart string number OIT will contact the primary
contact(s) directly in the event of a problem or if any questions arise about a website.
It is the responsibility of units using Web Hosting to maintain, modify, and delete their own web
objects and structures. OIT staff will not perform content maintenance.
The following guidelines include information about the most common acceptable-use issues. This is
not a comprehensive list; projects must follow these guidelines, but are also encouraged to use
industry best practices. When in doubt, contact us for further guidance at email@example.com.
Access to, and management of applications and content stored on Web Hosting servers is done
using the University’s x.500 system. Use of personal Internet IDs and passwords is required. Shared
or “departmental” accounts are not allowed.
The central web servers and shell servers are shared by many departments. As with any publicly-
shared servers, users should not consider these servers to be secure. Please do not store sensitive
or private data on websites, as this can lead to accidentally sharing this information to the public.
This shared nature of this web service also has important security considerations for web
applications that access local files; please program scripts accordingly.
There is no disk-space limit for the Web Hosting service. However, if a site uses so much space as to
disrupt services to other customers, alternate options, such as a service fee for disk space used, may
The customer is responsible for the cost of SSL certificates. Direct all questions about SSL
certificates to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Users are responsible for their own backups. While we encourage webmasters to make regular
backups of their work, these backups should be off-loaded from our servers to better provide a
source to restore your own data. OIT staff members maintain backups for system recovery
purposes only and will (generally) not restore website content on demand. If you have a particular
need for per-request recovery, please email us at email@example.com.
Please do not use our servers for general data processing or CPU-intensive work, such as the
operation of distributed data analysis programs. Normal document processing activities (i.e.
creation and management of website content) are acceptable.
There is no data transfer limit for the Web Hosting service. However, webmasters are encouraged
to develop websites that are viewable by users over dial-up (i.e. limit the size of images, and keep
other content down to a reasonable size).
Office of Information Technology – University of Minnesota 4
All customers of central Web Hosting are expected to:
• Adhere to any related policies, processes, and procedures
• Report problems using reporting procedures described in this service statement
• Provide input on the quality and timeliness of service
The status of University systems is available online at: http://systemstatus.umn.edu. Whenever
possible, users are encouraged to check the status page before contacting technical support.
Users are strongly encouraged to first contact technical support resources in their local unit if they
are experiencing problems with computers or applications. Local technical staff will be able to
resolve many problems or escalate them to the appropriate levels, helping to increase the speed
and effectiveness of the service response. Response time is dependent on the local unit’s technical
support processes and policies.
If local technical support resources do not exist or are not available (e.g., outside of normal work
hours) users are encouraged to contact the University’s 1-HELP service
• On-campus – 1-HELP (1-4357)
• Off-campus – (612) 301-HELP (4357)
• Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
1-HELP hours are found at:
Monday-Friday: 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Saturday: noon to 5 p.m.
Outside of these hours, or on University holidays, callers may leave a message, which will be
responded to the following business day.
1-HELP will escalate incidents, when necessary, to appropriate service providers. All incidents and
changes reported to 1-HELP will be logged into Service Center, a tracking tool.
Because a load balancer and multiple web servers are used, most outages can be avoided.
Web Hosting is an important service. In the event of a disaster, recovering central Web Hosting
services is a high priority. Multiple, highly available, load-balanced web servers are used for Web
Hosting, providing a redundant and fault-tolerant environment with an automatic fail-over process.
Degraded or failed service receives immediate attention and all available resources are brought
into force to recover full operations. Expected recovery time from a failure is estimated to be two
OIT will perform full and incremental backups of server data for use in disaster recovery. A typical
backup schedule will provide 30 days of data retention. In case of a system-wide disaster involving
loss of data, OIT will re-install the operating system(s) and restore data.
Office of Information Technology – University of Minnesota 5
In the event of a campus-wide failure or another event causing multiple service failures, Web
Hosting will be placed at a non-business critical level in the recovery queue, depending on the
nature of the failure. In other words, services like PeopleSoft or email would be a higher priority.
In the event of unexpected service interruption, OIT will update the System Status web page and
send notification of service interruption to units utilizing central Web Hosting within 15 minutes of
service loss identification. Post mortem will be released after the resolution of the interruption.
University of Minnesota Information Technology policies are available on the web at:
Polices related to this statement include:
Acceptable Use of Information Technology Resources
User Authentication for Access to University Computer Resources
For more information about this and other OIT services, visit the OIT service catalog.
This statement of service will be reviewed annually.
Service Statement Maintenance
Last revision: August 2010
File Name: Web Hosting.doc
Office of Information Technology – University of Minnesota 6